Sikh Warriors :Sardar Jodh Singh Ramgarhia
Jassa Singh Ramgarhia had two sons, Jodh Singh and Bir Singh. Jodh Singh succeeded to his father after his death. He contracted friendship with Raja Sansar Chand of Kangra with whose help he occupied parganas of Batala, Bhunga, Hoshiarpur and the surroundings areas.55
When Maharaja Ranjit Singh demanded the zamzama gun from Mai Sukhan, the widow of Gulab Singh Bhangi, in 1805, she gave a flat refusal to hand over the gun and prepared to fight against the Maharaja. Jodh Singh sent a secret reinforcement of three hundred soldiers to Sukhan. At the same time he advised her either to hand over the bone of contention-the zamzama gun, to Ranjit Singh or destroy the gun. She did not accept either of the suggestions. The Maharaja, accompanied by his allies, Sada Kaur and Fateh Singh Ahluwalia, besieged Amritsar. When the opposing forces were at thc point of severely clashing, Jodh Singh and Akali Phula Singh intervened and persuaded Sukhan to surrender. Thus, they were able to avert the bloodshed.56 Mai Sukhan and Gurdit Singh accepted the hospitality of Jodh Singh and stayed with him for some time.
In earlier stages, Jodh Singh was very friendly towards Sansar Chand Katoch but later their relations got strained due to the former’s inability to help the latter against the Gurkhas.
Maharaja Ranjit Singh felt that unless Ramgarhias were befriended he could not occupy the whole of the Punjab. So, with this thing in view, Ranjit Singh wrote a letter to Jodh Singh, soliciting his friendship and cooperation. After the things were settled the Maharaja sent Bishan Singh Munshi, Mehar Singh Lamba and Fateh Singh Kalianwala to conduct Jodh Singh to Lahore. Jodh Singh told them that he would join Maharaja Ranjit Singh on the acceptance of two conditions. First, that Batala, Kalanaur, Bajwara, and Sangowal which previously belonged to them and, of late, were in the hands of their opponents, should be restored to them. Second, Gurdit Singh Bhangi, who was lying at his door, should be provided with a Cager for his subsistence. The Maharaja accepted both the conditions. Jodh Singh, accompanied by his close associates, came to Amritsar and met Ranjit Singh at Harmandir Sahib and he was duly honoured by the latter.58
The demanded territories were restored to Jodh Singh and Panjore and five or six villages were given in jagir to Mai Sukhan and her son, Gurdit Singh.69 Jodh Singh was very much known for his magnanimity of heart and lavish generosity. Any defeated chief or impoverished person could go to him and enjoy his hospitality. He always sympathised with those on whom the fortunes frowned. In his Misal, he had introduced strict discipline and anybody found guilty of theft or any other crime was strictly dealt with. He would never sell justice but administer it with utmost honesty.60 He was very keen to give neat and clean administration to his people and there was nothing nearer his heart than the welfare of his subjects.
Jodh Singh participated in the battle of Kasur on the side of Ranjit Singh. After the occupation of Kasur the Maharaja gifted an elephant to the Ramgarhia chief. Later Jodh Singh always sided with Ranjit Singb in his expeditions against Multan and his other adversaries
Maharaja Ranjit Singh gave away in Sager the pargana of Ghuman to Jodh Singh. It gave an annual revenue of twenty five thousand rupees. Formerly, this area belonged to the Ramgarhias and at that time it was in the hands of Gulab Singh Bhangi.62
In 1811, RanjitSingh gave to Jodh Singh eleven villages from the pargana of Sikhowala (Sikhorwala, according to Khushwaqat Rai, and Sheikhupura, according to Gian Singh) which was in the possession of the sons of Fateh Singh Kanaihya, which fetched an annual revenue of twelve thousand rupees, Of all the Sikh Sardars the Maharaja had the greatest regards for Jodh Singh Ramgarhia and addressed him as ‘Baba Ji.’ When he came to see Maharaja Ranjit Singh the latter would go out a few steps to receive him and seated him by his sided Jodh Singh, mostly, lived at Lahore or Amritsar and he always mobilised his forces according to the instructions of the Maharaja.f6 Because of his unstinted loyalty to the Maharaja the Ramgarhia chief retained his possessions intact till his death on August 23, 1815. He remained hostile to the Ahluwalias and Rani Sada Kaur.66
Jodh Singh’s Successors
After Jodh Singh’s death, the members of his family began to quarrel for the division of the Misal’s possessions. Diwan Singh (son of Tara Singh), cousion brother of Jodh Singh, Vir Singh (brother of Jodh Singh) and widow of Jodh Singh were all claimants to the principality. Maharaja Ranjit Singh, hearing of their dispute, called the three claimants: Vir Singh, Diwan Singh and Mehtab Singh (son of Khushal Singh and cousin brother of Jodh Singh) to him at Nadaun, with a view to settling their dispute by arbitration. The Maharaja received them with courtesy but they misbehaved towards one another so rudely that Ranjit Singh was obliged to keep them in detention Then, the Maharaja marched on Amritsar and after some fighting took the fort of Ramgarh. He seized all the Ramgarhia lagers and, in a short time, reduced all their forts, upwards of a hundred and fifty in number. They contained abundant provisions in them. Almost all of them were pulled down.68
On the intercession of Sardar Chanda Singh Kanaihya the Rantgarhia Sardars were released from the jail and an annual jagir of 35,003 rupees was granted to them. Diwan Singh refused to accept his share. He fled to Patiala where he was well received. He also left that place and moved about for some time. Maharaja Ranjit Singh sent a word to Diwan Singh, through Desa Singh Majithia, assuring him the grant of a big jagir. He was respect fully received by the Maharaja at Lahore and was given command of 700 men in the expedition then setting out for Kashmir. There, he remained in charge of Baramula, a difficult hill post, till his death in 1834.69 Tlle widows of Jodh Singh were given Cagers of four villages for their maintenance. Vir Singh was given Dharmkot Randhawa in Cager. These were servicefree jagirs.70 Vir Singh had died six years earlier, in 1828, when two-third of his jagirs were resumed by the Maharaja.7l
After Diwan Singh’s death his son Mangal Singh, who was born in 1800, suceeded to his father’s estate. During his younger days he served Ranjit Singh on his personal staff. The Maharaja gave him jagirs in Dharmkot, Kalowala, Tibrah and Kundilah worth 9,000 rupees of which 3,600 rupees were personal, and 5,400 rupees for services.
After his father’s death Mangal Singh was sent to Peshawar in a command of 400 foot and 110 swars. There, he did commendable service under Hari Singh Nalwa and Tej Singh and fought in the famous battle of Jamrud in April 1837, where the brave Hari Singh Nalwa laid down his life.73
In 1839, Mangal Singh was recalled and sent to the hill territories between the Beas and the Satluj under orders of Lehna Singh Majithia and during the absence of that chief at Peshawar he was placed in charge of the hill forts, and was active in the suppression of the insurrection of 1840.74 During the reign of Maharaja Sher Singh he was employed under Lehna Singh in Suket, Mandi and Kulu and he remained there till the close of the Satluj Anglo-Sikh war in 1846. During the second Sikh war, Mangal Singh remained loyal to the British and served them in guarding the roads and maintaining order in the Amritsar and Gurdaspur districts. Later, he worked as a manager of the affairs of Harmandir Sahib, Amritsar.
Mangal Singh was a man of education and liberal ideas. It was mostly owing to his influence that the cause of female education was systematically taken up in Amritsar.75 Mangal Singh’s two sons, Gurdit Singh and Mitt Singh, served the British government in the police and civil departments respectively.
54. Khushwaqat Rai, op. cit., p. 76.
55. Khushwaqat Rai, op. cit., p. 77; Bute Shah. op. cit., IV, p. 61.
56. Ibid., p. 142; Ganesh Das, op. cit. p. 146; Ali ud-Din Mufti, op. cit., 1, p. 404.
57. Bute Shah, op. cit., IV, p. 17. 58. Mid., pp. 78-91; cf., Ahmad Shab Batalia, op. cit., p. 20. 59. Sohan Lal Suri, op. cit., II, p. 57. 60. Bute Shah, op. cit., IV, pp. 62-63.
61. Khushwaqat Rai, op. cit., p. 79; Bute Shah, op. cit., IV, p. 62.
62. Ibid., Gian Singh, op. cit., II, p. 240.
63. Khushwaqat Rai, op. cit., p. 79; Bute Shah, op. cit., IV, p. 62; Gian Singh, op. eit., p, 240.
64. Khushwaqat Rai, op. cit., p. 79; Bute Shah, op. cit., IV, p. 62; Ibid., p. 240.
65. Ahmad Shah Batalia, op. cit., p. 21; Bute Shah, op. cit., IV, p. 62.
66. Bute Shab, op. cit., IV, p. 63.
67. Lepel Griffln, op. cit., 174; cf., Ahmad Shah Batalia, op. cit., p. 21; M’Gregor (op. cit., 1, p. 136; Gian Singh, op. cit., p. 240; cf., Bute Shah, IV, p. 63: cf., Ali-ud-Din Mufti, Opacity p. 404.
68. Abroad Shah Batalia, op. cit., p 21, M’Gregor, op. cit., 1, pp. I36-37; Muhammad Latif, op. cit. p . 309,
69 Lepel Griffin, op. cit p. 175; Gian Singh, op. cit., p. 240; cf., Ahmad Shah Batalia, op. cit., p. 21; M-Gregor, op. cit., L p. 137.
70. Ali-ud-Din Mufti, op. cit., Vol 1, p. 30.(or 301?)
71. Ahmad Shah Batalia, op. cit., p. 21.
72. Lepel Griffin, op. cit., p. I75; Gian Singh, op. cit., pp. 240-41.
Article-excerpts taken from:
"History of Sikh Misals" by Bhagat Singh ji.
(pages 129-133) Published by Punjabi University., Patiala.